BOSTON – Check another item off the list: the Bruins are the top seed in the East for the second time in the last seven years since Claude Julien took over the head coaching reins for the team. The last time the Bruins topped the East during the regular season, in 2008-09, they finished with 53 wins and 116 points, and on Saturday the B’s notched their 53rd win of this season with a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden.
That was a much different team, however. Those Bruins were a young group with players like Milan Lucic and David Krejci just figuring out how they could be, a player like Patrice Bergeron in his first steps recovering from a hellacious concussion and key players like Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask not even yet a blip on the radar screen.
The Bruins have 113 points this season with five games remaining this season, and the grizzled, veteran group knows this is just another rung on a ladder that’s got plenty more room to climb.
“It’s something that I guess we wanted to do, but it wasn’t really our main goal. Everyone knows what our main goal is,” said Tuukka Rask. “It’s good to finish off first, and we still have a few games left, and try to finish strong and then really feel good about going into the playoffs.”
Still, Saturday seemed as good a time as any to be impressed with what this particular edition of the Bruins has put together. There’s enough talent, experience and desire that it could be the best team that the Bruins have dressed under the Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli regime in Boston, and that’s saying something.
“It’s been a lot of things,” said Julien, when asked what’s impressed him about the team. “I think our power play has improved. I think our depth has been there, you know, from the first line to the fourth line.
“I think there are a lot of things that have been good. We talk about — you just have to look at our record. We’re at 113 [points] right now — that tells you that overall you’ve been a pretty good team. I don’t think we’ve struggled in a bunch of areas. We’ve had struggles at times, but I don’t think there’s an area I really would consider a strong weakness on our team.”
The other 15 teams in the Eastern Conference would agree with Julien that there isn’t really a “strong weakness” on the Black and Gold, and now the titles, crowns and appropriate bragging rights are all falling Boston’s way after a very deserving regular season.